The internet is often regarded as a tool for levelling the playing field in many areas. It has democratized the way we express ourselves. While in many areas it has empowered us, some platforms have created asymmetries.
One example of this is TripAdvisor and other similar platforms. While they have empowered travellers and hotel guests, we don’t often think of the asymmetric relationship they create.
A guest or a customer can rant and rave about their experience but we as readers do not allow the same privilege to the service providers. True, properties can and do respond to explain or defend their actions but they are already on the back foot when responding to a negative review.
Irrational, nasty or malicious reviewers get away with absolutely zero repercussions or consequences while a hotel posting about a bad customer behavior will most definitely experience a torrent of abuse and backlash from the public.
With the growing level of incivility in society and among the travelling public universally across the globe, hoteliers need to find creative ways of overcoming this challenge. Finding the right balance of presence and level of engagement on social media platforms and the internet has always been difficult, partly due to the fast evolution and dynamism that is inherent in these tools/platforms.
I don’t know the ultimate solution but being aware of this asymmetry and taking that fact into consideration when putting together the property’s social media and digital identity strategy can help deal with them better. There aren’t many proactive measures we can put in place. People are unpredictable and irrational. When and how a customer reacts to our services will always remain unknown and when it does happen, we should react rationally and within reason.